Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, December 2016

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■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 20 DECEMBER 2016 2016 BE S T Industry Leader istoCkphoto.CoM/MiChaEl NivElEt Botanical Adulterants Program The program's newest educational tools keep stakeholders up to date on botanical adulteration. By JennIfer GreBow, edItor-In-ChIef Staying a step ahead of fraud can seem nearly impossible at times, given how adroitly cybercriminals and adulterers fnd new ways—overnight, it seems—to skirt existing detection capabilities. Luckily, there are those devoted to developing tools to help fght adulteration. In the herbal products industry, the Botanical Adulter- ants Program is one of those champions. Developed fve years ago by three U.S.-based nonproft organizations—the American Botani- cal Council (ABC; Austin, TX), the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP; Scotts Valley, CA), and the University of Mississippi's National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR; University, MS)—the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program is dedicated to spreading awareness and education about how herbs, herbal extracts, essential oils, and other plant-derived ingredients are being adulter- ated, either deliberately for fnancial gain or accidentally due to poor quality control. Over the past fve years, the Botanical Adulterants Program has evolved into a "long-term, multiparty coalition" of herbal experts sup- ported by more than 175 U.S. and international underwriters and en- dorsers. Participants include universities, third-party analytical labs, government agencies, trade associations, and industry companies. Teir shared goal is to help prevent botanical adulteration by deter- mining both the scope of adulteration happening in U.S. and global markets, as well as determining whether appropriate tools exist to detect adulteration—and then spreading the word. Te program's educational arsenal includes the comprehensive Botan- ical Adulteration Reports published in ABC's prestigious, peer-reviewed scientifc journal, HerbalGram; a Botanical Adulterants Monitor newslet- ter; plus peer-reviewed Laboratory Guidance Documents, which are de- veloped to help identify the most suitable analytical methods for testing botanicals for adulteration. Anyone who has read one of the extensive Botanical Adulteration Reports in HerbalGram can attest to the value of these lengthy reports, each focusing in on a specifc botanical ingredient and peer-reviewed by experts in the feld. Tis spring, the program added something new: Botanical Adulterants Bulletins. Tese concise (but still informa- tion-packed) reviews of ingredient-specifc botanical adulteration are not as in-depth as full-scale Botanical Adulteration Reports, but are still jam-packed with crucial information. Together, "the full papers and the Bulletins provide the background and available data on herb- al ingredients where quality problems have been confrmed, give a fairly broad overview of the plant species, and include data on cultiva- tion, harvest and market size, known adulterants, frequency of adul- teration (if such data is available), possible therapeutic issues using the adulterating species, and a short review of analytical approaches to detect the adulterant," says Stefan Gafner, PhD, ABC's chief science ofcer and technical director of the Botanical Adulterants Program and editor of the Botanical Adulterants Monitor. Timeliness, as we know, is key when it comes to fghting adultera- tion, particularly for certain ingredients. "For ingredients where there are many adulterant options, the adulteration landscape changes fre- quently," Gafner says. "An example is bilberry extract, where a number of fruit extracts which contain anthocyanins, the blue pigments giving bilberry its color, are used to fool the analytical test methods for bilber- ry and for which new adulterants are reported almost on a yearly basis." And therein lies the beauty of the Bulletins: because they are con- cise and in digital form, they can be updated more quickly while still retaining the high quality intrinsic to the Botanical Adulterants Pro- gram. "Te Bulletins are shorter reviews on current issues of herbal ingredient adulteration, which can be released in a more timely man- ner," Gafner says. In a press release, Mark Blumenthal, ABC's founder and executive director, called the Bulletins "a more rapid means of confrming suspected and/or alleged adulteration." So far, the program has published six Bulletins (on bilberry, grape- seed, skullcap, goldenseal, black cohosh, and arnica), with two more set to be published soon on saw palmetto and St. John's wort and plans for upcoming Bulletins on ashwagandha, ginkgo, and rhodiola. Te need for the Botanical Adulterants Program has never been more urgent, as the herbal-supplements industry is increasingly under scru- tiny by the public and regulators. As the Botanical Adulterants Program and its esteemed participants continue the crusade against herbal adul- teration, their positive efects are being felt not only within the industry but also where it matters most—consumer health and safety.

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